Buyer's Guide: Value Systems - May 2001by Mike Andrawes on April 25, 2001 12:55 AM EST
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The small office/home office machine has a unique set of requirements. It must provide quick and snappy 2D performance and be very stable. The keys to good performance on such a machine is lots of RAM and a fast hard drive. This system should be able to run almost anything that most business users might throw at it.
- AMD Duron 750 - $60
With Socket-A motherboards now offerring integrated video, thanks to the availability of the KM133 chipset, we can finally use a Duron processor in our value SOHO machine. Compared to the full blown Athlon, it performs within 5 - 10% of that more expensive chip, and is certainly more than enough power for a machine like this. The Duron should provide a considerable performance boost over the Celeron we were using in our last guide.
If you feel like overclocking, the Duron 750's that we've tested have run at 900 - 950 MHz by simply boosting the voltage and changing the clock multiplier. Of course, overclocking AMD's Socket-A CPU's, including the Duron, has been the center of much controversy, but it's quite easy with the right motherboard and the correct information. For full details on overclocking the Duron, read our latest AMD Socket-A Overclocking Article and the "What to look for in a KT133 Motherboard" section of our Socket-A Motherboard Roundup for August 2000.
If you really feel the need for speed, the price difference to an 800 or 850 MHz Duron is not huge, but neither is the performance difference. As far as overclocking goes, the higher rated cores seem to make no difference as our Duron 850's also topped out around 900 - 950 MHz.
For more information on all Duron processors, read our AMD Duron 900 Review.
Motherboard - ASUS A7VI-VM - $115
As long as gaming performance isn’t involved, the KM133 offers more than enough power for a basic home or office system.
Since this will be a work machine, quite possibly the most important factor in a motherboard is stability, and ASUS has provided some of the most stable Socket-A motherboards to come through our labs. Note that this is a microATX board, so if you need a lot of expansion, look for something in a full ATX form factor. However, most of the KM133 boards we've seen are microATX, which goes along with the value market for which the chipset is targetted.
With the KM133, unlike Intel's integrated chipsets, there is an AGP 4X slot available for upgrading the video at a later date if greater performance is needed or desired.
For more information, read our VIA KM133 Chipset Review.
Memory - 128MB Nanya/Mushkin Budget PC133 SDRAM - $40
While we can't point you in the direction of our usual recommendation of 128MB Corsair PC133 SDRAM due to cost, Mushkin's Budget PC133 SDRAM which we included in our latest PC133 SDRAM Roundup actually makes use of NANYA SDRAM chips which happened to work fairly well as you can see from our roundup.
Mushkin Budget PC133 w/ Nanya chips
Click to Enlarge
Video card - Integrated ProSavage Video - “free”
Although the integrated video on the KM133, based on a hybird of the S3 Savage4's 3D and Savage2000's 2D, is not incredibly fast by today's standards, it is sufficient to power the basic Windows 2D applications that will usually run on this machine. Fortunately, the KM133 offers an AGP 4X slot that can be used to upgrade to higher performance graphics at a later date if that becomes necessary.
For more information, see our KM133 Chipset Review.
- CTX VL950SL - $300
Monitors are one of the few computer components that you can usually hang onto for years to come. With that in mind, we didn’t want to go with anything smaller than a 19” on our value SOHO system - besides, once you’ve worked on a monitor this big, there’s no going back.
The best deal we could find on a 19” monitor was the CTX VL950SL, which will run you about $300. It’s a shortneck model that uses the same 0.26 mm dot pitch tube that many of the bigger brands use. For a bit more, just about every monitor manufacturer is offering a value 19" model that would fit the bill.